Patti Bargar's sleepless nights are good for the kids at Wasatch Elementary School.

She says some wonderful ideas settle in during her tossing and turning on those evenings:- A fall carnival reminiscent of celebrations in 1901; hundreds enjoyed the sunny day.

- A safety/health fair that drew almost 1,000 people to the school.

- Dozens of other, seemingly small plans that have created an open, welcome atmosphere at a school with the highest rate of student turnover in the county.

In all, the PTA president has teachers and district administrators calling her a miracle worker.

Since Bargar took office 16 months ago, PTA membership at the low-income school has soared from 47 to 261. And volunteer hours have likewise increased from a few thousand in 1992 to more than 11,000 this year.

"Consider that last year, 382 of our 400 students left and were replaced by new ones and you realize how significant Patti's work has been," says Principal Betty Spencer.

But Bargar, who started to donate time four years ago, isn't taking the accolades by herself. She credits Spencer and the school's teachers with a "remarkable and rare" willingness to embrace the community.

She says the school set goals to increase parental involvement and then took action to see it happen. "We have a lot of apartments and people don't see a need to get involved when they know they are just temporary . . . but now they visit our school and see how welcome they are."

In fact, Spencer recalls talking with a father at last year's fall carnival who said the conversation was "the first civil talk I've had with a principal."

There's more to the turnaround than just a few well-planned events. Bargar, Spencer and others at the school have teamed up to bring Clearfield residents and other professionals into classrooms almost daily.

Members of the area's Kiwanis Club, for example, spend one night a week after school tutoring students on a variety of subjects. High School students do likewise on Thursday. And every third Wednesday is a parenting workshop attended by 60 to 100 Wasatch parents.

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The local police and fire chiefs even read to kids once a month.

"I think Patti has bridged some gaps to the community . . . the kids have positive role models that they see almost every day," Spencer said.

Bargar, who has a child that attends Wasatch, spends between 20 and 40 hours a week in the halls and classrooms. She says her work requires that much time. "What happens to our kids affects the community."

But it's her work during sleepless nights that seems to start it all. And when morning comes, she says she knows an army of willing workers will help put her ideas in motion.

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